FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS, Ill. — World War II veterans from the 388th bomb group had a reunion in Fairview Heights over Labor Day weekend.
Crew members Tom McElherne, Jim Ragland, Jack Vann, Joe Hallam and Chuck Neff gathered with family and friends to remember their service and those of former comrades who have passed on.
The 388th BG was activated on Dec. 24, 1942 at Gowan Field just outside of Boise, Idaho. After going to England in B-17 in the summer of 1943 and helping win the war there, they returned to Sioux Falls Army Air Field, South Dakota and prepared to deploy to the Pacific. When the Pacific war ended, the group was inactivated on Aug. 28, 1945. Maloney represented the Air Force Reserve’s 932nd Airlift Wing from Scott Air Force Base in Illinois and thanked each veteran before presenting them a 932nd Operations Group coin.
“A heartfelt thank you to Col. Michael Maloney and Lt. Col. Stan Paregien of the 932nd Airlift Wing. It was such an honor to have Col. Maloney as our guest speaker for the 70th Annual Reunion of the 388th Bomb Group Association. It is always humbling to watch our military community grow when connections are made through service. Listening to Col. Maloney’s story as a former B-52 bomber pilot brought those connections between generations ever closer. He also honored our heroes who were able to attend with challenge coins and, accepted in return, a 388th BGA coin presented by one of our founding Veterans, 2nd Lt Charles (Chuck) Neff. Having the Air Force Reserve actively present in our communities and witnessing their enthusiastic support of these brave men who long ago helped secure our freedoms, gives an uplifting hope that these generations and their stories will not be forgotten,” said Kim Klein, president of the association.